If you’re ever asked what the world’s smartest animal is, then the humble elephant should certainly come to mind. These incredible beasts have brains that are more than three times larger than ours, and some estimates suggest that they sport nearly 300 billion neurons. With that in mind, it’s no joke to say that elephants are particularly intelligent creatures.
Just like humans, elephants are able to recognize their own reflections. Elephants also display complex emotions in the forms of empathy and mourning and are often seen comforting others in their time of need. Some females even assume the role of being a surrogate mother when a baby’s true mother passes away or goes missing.
On average, a baby elephant reaches maturity after just ten years. In this time, that elephant must learn to survive with or without its herd, which is typically headed by a matriarch, or the dominant female in the group. It will learn to eat, medicate itself in times of need, and find sources of water in dry or arid locations that don’t otherwise see much rain.
In addition to being supportive of one another, they’re also particularly protective. Larger and more capable elephants protect their young by pushing them closer toward the center of large moving groups, which creates a protective barrier against potential threats.
It would be an understatement to say elephants are amazing creatures, and it’s unfortunate that so many are senselessly killed for illegal ivory trade, which continues to fuel greed in many third-world countries. Hopefully, conservation efforts will keep elephants around for a long time to come.